The series has been steered in various directions over its course, and where the first three instalments towed a serious horror/slasher line, the rebranded sequels took a comical approach and did away with the “Child's Play” moniker, focusing on the “of Chucky” handle instead... Bride of Chucky offered a quirky, yet sinister story while Seed of Chucky busted it's nut on the comedy. It was a miscalculation that threatened to derail the franchise and as far as worried fans were concerned, it was the end of the line. And then after a 9-year hiatus the series creator Don Mancini returned with Curse of Chucky and brought the damn thing back to life again. And much to the audience's delight, he returned to its horror roots, crafting a dark and twisted nightmare.
And so we arrive at Cult of Chucky, the latest instalment, which picks up where the previous movie left off, and sees the return of Andy Barclay, the 6-year old boy from the first two movies (his character was also in number 3, played by Justin Whalin). The original actor, Alex Vincent reprises his role (he briefly appeared in Curse) as an adult Andy and helps bring the series back to it's true Child's Play roots. And the result is a strangely hypnotic descent into psychoville, where nothing is what it seems and genre-tropes are flagrantly exploited.
Following the events of Curse of Chucky, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) finds herself committed to a psychiatric hospital, where everyone is convinced that she is a deranged killer. Meanwhile Andy Barclay lives a reclusive life in a remote cabin, knowing that Chucky's rampage isn't over. Throughout the course of the film our sadistic plastic friend breaks into the asylum and sets upon killing the patients, of course, but not before fucking with their heads. It is a silly but violent outing that adheres to the horror origins of the series while injecting some of that humour back into the fray. The story arch holds a lot of revelations and to reveal too much would be to spoil the fun for those who haven't seen it. And it IS a lot of fun!
It has to be noted that CULT OF CHUCKY is very dumb. The asylum setting alone is all too stupid, with it looking like some sort of archetypal 19h century loony bin. And for all of its size and grandeur, there appears to be only half a dozen patients verses three actual staff members (the precise amount of humans to facilitate the story, and probably as many as the budget could bare). But of course who are we to give a shit about such things? We came to see a killer doll and we expect to see murder! And to that note, CULT delivers in spades.
This instalment, like the one before it (and each before the other) is unlike any Child's Play movie we've seen yet, and it is Don Mancini's “never repeat oneself” mantra that makes this one of the most enduring horror franchises of them all. Where other horror properties have racked up countless instalments, none of them have had the original creator steering every move throughout, nor have they been so bold as to present each chapter in new and refreshing ways. And while none of the individual films push the genre into new places, they do embrace different horror sub-genres and exploit those tropes to the max. Where CURSE gave us a haunted-house inspired thriller, CULT takes a stab as the loony bin story. Furthermore Mancini has upped the ante and made his latest outing the most gruesome of them all. It is a deliciously grotesque and gratuitously gory Chucky movie that will delight fans of the series and the genre alike.
Brad Dourif returns as the voice of Chucky, and relishes every morsel. Despite being 67-years old he shows no signs of slowing down and he delivers Chucky's lines as enthusiastically as he did in 1988. Alex Vincent's return is a very welcome adage to the series and he resumes the role comfortably. He seems to be comfortable on screen and hopefully he'll stick around for a few more turns. And of course Fiona Dourif fits in with the series nicely. Her on-screen persona bares an eerie resemblance to her co-starring father which, needless to say, is made for horror. And come to think of it her place within the mental asylum, along with her familiar expressions, recalls her dad's incredible performance in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. And then there's Jennifer Tilly... sigh (read in to that how you will).
What matters is that CHUCKY lives on... and the series has become a fan-service franchise, where outsiders need not apply. Long-serving fans will eat up all of its gnarly treats, and they will celebrate the return of a horror icon. They will relish the wonderful set design and express a sign of relief knowing that Mancini does away with his reliance on CGI (as flaunted in CURSE). Most of the film's effects are achieved practically and the movie proves that there is plenty of juice left in the tank. It shows no signs of slowing down and, of course, the post-credits teaser promises an absolutely KICK ASS eighth instalment. Yes please!